Recent events related to PerformancePoint Planning have been surprising to some and (perhaps unsurprisingly) a source of relief for others. By now we've read all of the "told you so" and "OMG they Killed Kenny!" posts and articles, and we've read the official line from Microsoft. Those who were really passionate about PerformancePoint and the end-to-end message of Microsoft Performance Management may well look back one day and recall where they were when that (in)famous leaky post broke. When the official word finally came through, a few questions came to my mind.
Did PerformancePoint Planning really under-perform? Although this depends on whom you speak with, the issue is clearly one of software sales vs. solution delivery. Colleagues of ours who operate or work for Microsoft Partners in the U.S. have shared their problems in selling the PerformancePoint Planning module, while colleagues of ours in the U.K., South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and Australia have seen surging opportunities; in most cases the overarching reason was the unprecedented flexibility in meeting IFRS requirements. Meanwhile, the recent media release from Microsoft suggests that customers simply did not resonate with PerformancePoint Planning. What was your market experience (with customers and/or Microsoft) like with PerformancePoint?
Did Microsoft Partners, who developed marketing and operational strategies around the PerformancePoint platform, fail in their market research and planning? Let's look at the record books: 18-24 months ago industry research bodies had the business & technology world convinced that Microsoft was shaking things up in attacking the CPM market. Microsoft's competition must have believed this as well since they moved quickly in acquiring BI/CPM assets from smaller well-known companies, in order to provide their very own 'single performance management footprint'. Microsoft Partners, who watched prospects historically overlook Microsoft BI because it "couldn't do what Cognos/Business Objects could do", saw the opportunity to take the fight to competing Cognos and Business Objects Partners. "At last", certain Microsoft Partners probably thought, "now we have a full Performance Management suite too, and its compelling". Looking further into history, those Microsoft Partners who made big bets on what would eventually become SharePoint, SQL Server and Windows Server found sustainable offerings and generated significant wealth creation, delivering solutions in spaces that matched their passions. "Surely the pattern would hold true for PerformancePoint", they may have thought. Presently, Monday morning quarterbacks tell us that PerformancePoint was virtually doomed from the outset. What was your experience in evaluating PerformancePoint, the market opportunity it presented as well as your own readiness for the 'single footprint for performance management'? Would Microsoft have been so quick to bail on PerformancePoint if they didn't have to cut loose 5000 unlucky people? How did SharePoint perform in the early stages by comparison?
Was PerformancePoint Planning all too hard? Depends on whom you speak with. In our experience and those shared by our colleagues, Partners who truly understood how to speak the language of business, who understood accounting and financial concepts, who grasped sales and operations planning (S&OP), business strategy and performance management frameworks inspired customers and won successful engagements. To my mind, this was the point of PerformancePoint. Frankly, anyone could make a dashboard, but those Partners who really understood performance management to begin with really understood how much of an impact it could /and did have with CFOs, CIOs, COOs, etc. The goal of PerformancePoint Monitoring Server and Planning Server, in the end, was to help drive closed-loop business performance. Did you embrace PerformancePoint completely, or, did you focus only on one of the two server offerings in the suite?
Is the PerformancePoint Services strategy wise? If you saw 'Charlie Wilson's War' then you'll get what I mean when I say: "We'll see". In my personal (read: non-professional) opinion, I believe that by leaving Planning out of the integration strategy into SharePoint "Next", customers are probably more likely to look elsewhere for a complete performance management solution. I also believe that suddenly there is an inherent opportunity. Wise or unwise? Crisis or opportunity? We'll see.
And what about the Partners who have put it all on the line to help promote PerformancePoint as well as the many customers worldwide who have committed to the platform? Well, I can point to the words of fellow Canadian Alan Whitehouse. Chris Webb made a constructive point, too, in his parting shots. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the thought-leaders over at Adatis Consulting to weigh in.... :-)
- Adrian Downes
Update: I am informed that Alan Whitehouse is indeed American and not Canadian as I blurted out previously..... but that's still cool with me!